Getting an Apostille in the USA
United States Authentication Authorities
Q. Who are the U.S. "Competent Authorities" to issue the Apostille certificate?
A. There are three levels of U.S. competent authorities, one for Federal agencies, one for U.S. (federal) courts, and one for state documents, including documents executed before notaries.
1. Federal Executive and Administrative Agencies: Authentications Office, Department of State, 518 23rd St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520, (202) 647-
2. U.S. Courts: Clerks and Deputy Clerks of the Federal Court System. Fee: $5.00.
For the purposes of the Convention, clerks and deputy clerks of the U.S. Courts shall include the clerks and deputy clerks of the following: The Supreme Court of the United States, the Courts of Appeals for the First through the Eleventh Circuits and the District of Columbia Circuit, the United States District Courts, the United States Court of Claims, the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, the United States Court of International Trade, the United States District Court for the District of the Canal Zone, the District Court of Guam, the District Court of the Virgin Islands, and the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.
Office of the Secretary of State
Business Programs Division
Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277-
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; any Assistant Secretary of State; any Deputy Secretary of State.
The California Secretary of State provides authentication of public official signatures on documents to be used outside the United States of America. The country of destination determines whether the authentication is an Apostille or Certification.
Apostilles and Certifications only certify to the authenticity of the signature of the official who signed the document, the capacity in which that official acted, and when appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears. The Apostille or Certification does not validate the contents of the document.
The California Secretary of State authenticates signatures only on documents issued in the State of California signed by a notary public or the following public officials and their deputies:
County Clerks or Recorders
Court Administrators of the Superior Court
Executive Clerks of the Superior Court
Officers whose authority is not limited to any particular county
Executive Officers of the Superior Court
Judges of the Superior Court
Authentication requests can be submitted by mail to our Sacramento office. The processing time is typically three to five business days from the date the request is received in the Sacramento office.
When submitting a request for authentication by mail, please include the following items:
The original notarized and/or certified document(s). A photocopy is not acceptable.
A cover letter stating the country in which the document will be used.
A check or money order for the authentication fee of $20 per authentication certificate made payable to Secretary of State and payable in U.S. dollars.
Authentication requests can be presented in person to our Sacramento or Los Angeles office locations for processing between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays). A $20 fee for each authentication certificate and an additional $6 special handling fee for each different public official's signature to be authenticated is required. When presenting a request in person to either of our offices, no appointment is necessary. Customers are served on a "first come first serve" basis. Payments can be made by check, money order, or credit card (Visa or MasterCard). Cash is only accepted in person at the Sacramento office. Please refer to Contact Information for office addresses.
An "ABCs of Apostilles" (pdf ~ 1.67 MB) brochure that provides basic information about the Apostille Convention and the Convention's operation has been prepared by the Permanent Bureau (Secretariat) of the Hague Conference on Private International Law and is provided with the Permanent Bureau's permission. The Permanent Bureau hopes this brochure will assist the millions of users of the Apostille Convention around the world.
The Notary Public Section is responsible for:
reviewing and approving course curriculum and issuing certificates of approval to notary public education vendors;
appointing and commissioning qualified persons as notaries public for four-
certifying to the authenticity of notaries public and public officials' signatures;
issuing permits to authorized seal manufacturers to produce notary public seals;
maintaining and distributing a list of all authorized seal manufacturers to newly commissioned notaries public;
enforcing laws related to the Child Support Enforcement Program, which provides for the suspension or revocation of commissions for noncompliance with child or family support orders; and
investigating violations of notary public law and taking appropriate administrative or criminal disciplinary actions.